Music » Festivals

Jenn, Josh, Fred and Mike

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Gather around children, and let me tell you about the days back when granny was little and MuchMusic actually played music! And VJs were walking encyclopedias of musical knowledge and not vapid timefillers between Girlicious and Ice T’s Rap School (back then the only schooling Ice T was involved in had a body count).

In the early days Denise Donlon was a MM VJ, then she went on to become their director of music programming, VP and general manager. A few years later she was the president of Sony Music Canada, before the merger with BMG, and now she’s the head of CBC. Let’s just say she’s a pretty decent feminist role-model and proof that you can turn your passions into a well-paying day-job. Anyway, yesterday Donlon was in town, and there was a small reception with CEEB and other types, followed by a Studio H performance with Jenn Grant. Jenn (sporting kick-ass red boots, which sadly you can’t see in my photo because someone grabbed the cord and didn’t bring it back), played a lot of new songs, which she recorded at Puck’s farm…

The new stuff sounds really tamale-boot hot; in particular I liked the dramatic air of a song Jenn refers to as the “monster song”---most likely for its Addam’s Family-approved opening. It’s also a pleasure to see Sean MacGIllivray and Dave Christensen play with her; those dudes are like the musical equivalent of the Rock of Gibraltar.

Only a few more months until you can press that CD to your cheek…

After the taping, it was Shopper’s for trail mix and overpriced model-water (the festival diet starts early) and a sold-out, nosebleed balcony seat to see Josh Ritter. I wasn’t really in the mood for a shushing show, but he’s just such a charming-pants, his lyrics are so great (and it was his birthday), it was a nice diversion. And he did a killer stripped-down version of Springsteen’s “The River.” The last time I saw Ritter was when he stole the show from Sarah Harmer a couple of years ago, and I totally forgot how much play his music received in the Carter Flinn household for awhile there...

See this? No you can’t because I can’t show you my photos yet. But take my word, this is acceptable audience participation. Ritter divided the room into Romeos (floor seats) and Juliets (balconies) for a group serenade. You know what doesn’t work? When Josh Ritter is singing the “la-di-de-di” parts of the song “Kathleen”, and you (she knows who she is) join in and make it a spontaneous duet! And you’re blessed with tone-deafness. And everyone can hear you, so they start singing along to make it less awkward for Ritter, who is ignoring you. Peeps didn’t pay $20 to hear your shower serenades… This also happened to me last week at Daniel Lanois, during “Jolie Louise,” where I endured a woman scream-singing the French lyrics phonetically (“Toooos lezzzz matins oh soleee”) into my ear. It’s totally cool to be super-excited fan, but try mouthing the words next time to avoid star appearances in cranky blogs.

After that we headed over to Coconut Grove. I really wanted to see Fred--indie-disco Irish pop? Hells yes—because I tried to see them this summer at NXNE, and it didn’t work out. Sadly, my relationship with Fred is turning into the Cork, Ireland, version of the love story Once; just not meant to be (Apparently I am trying to make as many references to that film as I can. I know it’s late, but they’re working on the stage version now). Vancouver’s Said The Whale also couldn’t make it either, but Christina Martin jumped in earlier like a trooper. This meant that I got to see The Lodge. Can we just rename this year’s festival the O’Neill Explosion? Mike was pulling out these amazing torso-bending Ian Curtis moves that fitted the band’s fantastic dark, angular sounds like a favourite t-shirt under a tattered sweater.

Football? No way!!

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